Feb. 25, 2014
USC Women's Basketball Release
The USC women's basketball team puts the finishing touches on the regular season in an attempt to improve its seeding for the coming Pac-12 Tournament when the Women of Troy hit the road for Utah and Colorado this week. The Trojans (16-12, 9-7 Pac-12) will be looking for a season sweep of the Utes and the Buffs. The Trojans will visit Utah (11-16, 4-12) for a rare Thursday (Feb. 27) clash at 7 p.m. MT before heading to Boulder to take on Colorado (15-12, 5-11) at 12 p.m. MT on Sunday (March 2).
THE LAST MEETING
January 5, 2014
USC Women Turn The Tide On Utah For 55-47 Comeback Win
The USC women's basketball team drummed up its fifth straight win in remarkable fashion today, breaking out of a late seven-point hole by crafting a 16-0 run into the lead while also forcing five turnovers by visiting Utah in the final 4:20 of play. The Trojans captured their fifth straight win on a 55-47 comeback victory over the Utes, with Cassie Harberts hauling in a double-double and Brianna Barrett pouring in 10 of her final 17 points in the final 2:48 of the game to charge up USC to victory at the Galen Center. USC improves to 10-5 overall and is now 3-0 in Pac-12 play. Utah goes to 7-6, 0-2
THE LAST MEETING
January 3, 2014
Both USC's games this week will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks. The USC-Utah game will have play-by-play from Anne Marie Anderson and analysis by Julie Rousseau. The USC-Colorado game will have play-by-play from Jim Watson and analysis from Becky Hammon. Live streaming broadcasts are also available online to Pac-12 Network recipients at pac-12.com/networks/pac-12-national/. Live stats for both games this week will also be available online through the Gametracker and Live Stats links on the women's basketball schedule page at usctrojans.com.Thursday, Feb. 27
USC (16-12, 9-7) at Utah (11-16, 4-12)
Salt Lake City, Utah -- 7 p.m. MT
Sunday, March 2
USC (16-12, 9-7) at Colorado (15-12, 5-11)
Boulder, Colo. -- 12 p.m. MT
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in the national polls as the Trojans enter the 16th week of 2013-14 competition. Utah and Colorado also are unranked.
USC came up short of dealing out upsets against back-to-back ranked opponents last week, falling 64-59 to No. 4 Stanford and 76-67 to No. 18 California in the Trojans' final home games of the season. On Friday, USC heaped an enormous amount of pressure on No. 4 Stanford, putting the Pac-12 leaders in a 19-point hole during the first half of play before the Cardinal regrouped and pushed on to victory. Stanford was able to fend off the Women of Troy with a 64-59 decision at Galen Center. USC was hot-handed out of the gates and ferocious on defense as the Trojans were shooting 65 percent from the floor while holding Stanford to just 29 percent as UC built a 31-13 in the first 12 minutes of the game. Stanford would wake up and cut down the lead to a 37-30 USC halftime advantage, however, heating up to 44 percent from the floor in the first half. USC shot 48 percent in the first half to keep the Cardinal at bay, but that effort would not last, unfortunately. As Stanford locked down its efforts, USC slumped to 22 percent from the floor in the second half, finishing the game at 36 percent while Stanford wrapped things at 45 percent. That role reversal caused Stanford to catch the Trojans at 43-43 with 11:30 to go in the second half and soon move into a lead that the Cardinal would not relinquish. The Trojans were resolute in their efforts to keep close, cutting it to a four-point game with 3:30 remaining and then down to three in the final minute, only to see Stanford convert from the free-throw line down the stretch to secure the win. USC was led by Ariya Crook's 24 points and 12 from Cassie Harberts, while Alexyz Vaioletama hauled in 10 rebounds for the Trojans. Stanford's scoring was topped by Chiney Ogwumike with a game-high 27 points and Bonnie Samuelson's 14 points. On Sunday, USC outpaced by a determined No. 18 California squad, taking a 76-67 loss to the Golden Bears. USC took the first lead of the game, but Cal fired back with a strong effort from the floor in the first half. The Bears hit at a 52-percent clip through the first 20 minutes of play while USC was at 43 percent to trail Cal 34-30 at the break. The Bears would keep that pace rolling through the second half as well, finishing up the game at 51 percent while USC was just off the mark at 44 percent. Cal also won out on the boards 38-30. The Women of Troy were paced by Cassie Harberts' 11th consecutive game in doubles figures, hitting 18 points in this one to lead three USC scorers in double digits. Ariya Crook and Kiki Alofaituli both finished up with 10 points on the day. Highlighting the USC stat sheet was a full set of USC seniors on the board. All four seniors -- Harberts, Desiree Bradley, Kate Oliver and Rachel Totten -- scored buckets in their final game at Galen Center. For Totten, her basket was the first of her Trojan career. Cal got a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds from Reshanda Gray, who scored the first eight points of the second half for the Bears. Afure Jemerigbe was the only other Cal player in double figures with 16 points today.
The Utes are 11-16 overall and 4-12 in Pac-12 play after beating Arizona 52-47 and losing to ASU 60-40 last week. Michelle Plouffe leads Utah with 17.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Utah went 23-14 overall last season with an 8-10 finish in Pac-12 play before making a run to the WNIT championship game, where the Utes fell to Drexel by three points. USC is 6-5 all-time against Utah in a series dating back to the 1977-78 season. USC snapped a three-game losing skid to the Utes with a 55-47 victory over Utah last month at Galen Center.
The Buffs are 15-12 overall and 5-11 in Pac-12 play after losing 55-51 at ASU and beating Arizona 61-56 in overtime last week. CU is led in scoring by Arielle Roberson and Jen Reese with 12.6 and 12.3 points per game, respectively. Roberson leads on the boards with 7.9 rebounds per game. Colorado went 25-7 overall with a 13-5 mark in Pac-12 play, making a trip to the NCAA First Round. USC is 5-4 all-time against Colorado in a series that dates back to the 2002-03 season. USC snapped a two-game slump of losses to the Buffs with the Trojans' 55-45 win over Colorado last month at Galen Center.
BANNER WEEKEND AT GALEN
The Women of Troy made some historic moves during their winning weekend against the Oregon schools. Against the Beavers on Jan. 17, it was a career day for USC senior Cassie Harberts and junior Ariya Crook, who both cracked the all-time top-10 in different categories. Harberts passed up USC head coach and Trojan great Cynthia Cooper on the all-time scoring list, while Crook broke the century mark in career 3-pointers to climb to No. 10 there. Against Oregon, the USC women became the first team ever to score 100 points at the Galen Center with the Trojans' 109-85 victory. The fast-paced game saw 12 different Women of Troy score -- led by 30 points from Harberts -- as USC built up its highest-scoring game since 1982. The Trojans' whopping 109 final points notched the 34th triple-digit game in USC women's program history and the first ever at Galen Center by any team -- men's or women's, home or opponent. USC also dished out 33 assists in the game -- second most in program history. Crook matched her career best with seven to lead all, while Harberts served up a career-high six assists and finished up just one point away from her career high, tallying 30 points today. Freshman Courtney Jaco, meanwhile, matched her career high with 14 points on a 5-of-6 effort from the floor.
USC tallied its first win over a ranked opponent since 2011 when the Trojans upset No. 12 Colorado 55-45 during a busy stretch of three games in seven days -- all wins by the Women of Troy. On Jan. 3 against the Buffs, USC held No. 12 Colorado scoreless for the first seven minutes and last four minutes in a focused finish by the Trojans, who shrugged off six ties and 10 lead changes to clamp down and end the game on a 13-0 run to victory. After an 0-for-12 start, Colorado was able to warm up to a cool 21 percent in the half. It was enough of a warmup to cut into what had been a 12-point USC lead and make it a 23-20 margin with the Trojans in the lead at the break, shooting 26 percent from the floor. The tough Trojan defensive effort had the Buffs with a season-low 20- points at the half, while both teams held more rebounds than points with USC up 25-23 on the boards. In the second half, the Buffs worked into the lead for the first time, and were up by three points with 4:01 remaining. The Trojans locked in and dominated the rest of the game, getting four players in on the scoring to finish out the victory. USC ended up shooting 31 percent from the floor to Colorado's 28 percent. Both were season lows for the teams, but it was a marked drop off for the Buffs, who came into this game shooting 44 percent overall and averaging 77.5 points per game. USC won out on the boards as well, 45-41, and tallied a season-high 10 blocks in the victory. Cassie Harberts led all scorers with 19 points, finishing just a rebound away from a double-double with nine on the night. She would climb up in the USC record books as well, taking over at No. 12 all-time with 1,498 career points. USC's last win over a ranked team had been a 58-51 victory over No. 24 Gonzaga on Dec. 5, 2011, snapping a stretch of 16 winless games against ranked opponents.
USC made it a 3-0 start to its 2013-14 campaign under new head coach and Trojan great Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. The Women of Troy turned the tide on three opponents to kick off the new season, avenging losses taken last season to UC Davis, Fresno State and San Diego State. USC beat the Aggies 64-55 in a season-opening road tilt, then took down Fresno State 63-54 in Fresno. And in the Trojans' home opener, USC topped the Aztecs 65-61 to make it a 3-0 start, marking the first time since the 1998-99 season that USC has made such a winning start.
CAN'T STOP CASSIE
Senior Cassie Harberts is the centerpiece of the USC team and has established herself as one of USC's top players all-time. She entered her senior season ranked No. 16 all-time in scoring with 1,293 career points, having scored her 1,000th point as a junior. Now with 1,755 total points, she has overtaken USC head coach and Trojan great Cynthia Cooper, former teammate and current pro Briana Gilbreath, and Sparks standout Ebony Hoffman to now rank as USC's No. 8 all-time leading scorer -- 42 points away from the No. 7 spot. And with 880 career rebounds, she already ranks at No. 8 all-time in USC's history books. From the stripe, Harberts has taken over Lisa Leslie to now rank No. 4 all-time with 539 free throws made. As a freshman, Harberts tallied a 31-point game, which was the most points scored by a Trojan freshman since 1981. On Jan. 19, 2013, she tallied her second career 30-point game in leading the Trojans to a 109-85 victory over Oregon -- making the Women of Troy the first team, male or female, ever to score in triple digits at the Galen Center. Harberts also picked up the Pac-12 Player of the Week selection following the win. During her USC career to date Harberts has earned 2011 Pac-10 All-Tournament Team and 2011 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team honors, 2012 All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention, and 2013 All-Pac-12 Team and a pair of Pac-12 Player of the Week awards to go along with her consistent academic accolades. With nine double-doubles this season to date, she has recorded 26 in her career, and in her junior season she became USC's all-time record holder for free throws made (207) and attempted (298) in a single season. This past summer, Harberts won a gold medal as a member of the USA's World University Games team. She's since picked up national acclaim with selection to the Wooden Award Preseason Top-30 and Naismith Award Early Watch List. Harberts also was a nominee for the WBCA, NBCA and Allstate Good Works Team.
COOP COMES HOME
A USC legend has come home and the Women of Troy are ready to rise once again to the elite level of their glory days. Trojan great Cynthia Cooper has returned to USC, this time as head coach of the women's basketball team, having helped to lead the Women of Troy to back-to-back NCAA Championships as a student-athlete. Cooper then won an Olympic gold medal, four WNBA titles and went on to launch a successful career as a head coach. In the past seven years, Cooper has resurrected three collegiate programs and received three league coach of the year honors in return. But now she's returned to her roots to coach the 2013-14 Women of Troy back to dominance in collegiate women's basketball. Cooper is aided by a strong staff of coaches, including the new additions of associate head coach Brandy Manning and assistant coach Jualeah Woods. Woods is a Trojan herself, having played with Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson and graduating USC in 1994. Assistant coach Evan Unrau is back for her second season with the Women of Troy. Cooper takes over the USC program following a disappointing 2012-13 season in which the Trojans missed the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive season. At 15-9 overall and 8-4 in Pac-12 play to date this season, the 2013-14 Trojans have passed up last year's win marks of 11 total and 7 in conference.
HEALTHY AND WISE
One thing that the team hadn't experienced in a while is the luxury of having 11 healthy players return to this year's roster. Injury depletion had crushed USC's ability to make progress in past seasons, but with a strong and experienced roster led by seniors Cassie Harberts, Desireé Bradley, Kate Oliver and Rachel Totten, this year is shaping up to be a different story. Harberts has maintained her constancy for the Trojans, having started every game since coming to Troy as a true freshman. Back from injury this year is sophomore point guard Jordan Adams, who has started every game this season, as has junior Alexyz Vaioletama. It wasn't until Jan. 3 that this Trojan squad was bitten by the injury bug, with two starters -- Ariya Crook and Kiki Alofaituli -- sidelined with injuries. Alofaituli missed three games, and Crook also missed three but returned to action on Jan. 17.
Alexyz Vaioletama has come into her own this season. She's nearly doubled her output from last season, going from 4.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore in 2012-13 to stand as USC's third leading scorer (8.4 ppg) and No. 2 in rebounding (7.3 rpg) as a junior. She's recorded her first career double-doubles this season, and while in Arizona she led the team in scoring in both games, nailing a career-high 21 points (including the game-tying 3-pointer to force OT) at ASU and scoring 16 at Arizona.
BACK FOR MORE
USC returns all but one player from last year's roster, with grad Christina Marinacci the only loss from 2012-13. She was third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding, and finished her career as USC's No. 9 all-time rebounder (738), so the Trojans do have some sizable shoes to fill. In all, USC returns 11 letterwinners from last year's team, including nine players who started at least seven games in 2012-13. Ninety-one percent of USC's scoring was produced by those 11 players last season, including 88 percent of the rebounding. Cassie Harberts herself accounted for 29 percent of USC's points, 21 percent of its rebounds and 44 percent of its free throws made last season. Harberts, Kiki Alofaituli and Brianna Barrett all appeared in every game last year, while Alexyz Vaioletama and Ariya Crook missed only one game each.
Lots of talent returns at the guard position with juniors Ariya Crook, Kiki Alofaituli and Alexyz Vaioletama and sophomore Brianna Barrett ready for another season. Crook averaged 13.4 points per game and received All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention after playing in 30 games for the Trojans last season. Barrett is coming off a fantastic freshman debut in which she finished the year with Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention and Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention. Off the injured list this season is highly touted guard Jordan Adams, who was a McDonald's All-American before being sidelined by injury early last year. She's back in action to boost up the Trojan backcourt for 2013-14. Additional youthful experience comes for the Trojans in the form of sophomore Destinie Gibbs and redshirt sophomore Deanna Calhoun, who bring another important depth charge to the USC roster along with the feisty Alofaituli and athletic Vaioletama.
THE NEW CLASS
USC has two true freshmen and three transfers added to the roster for this season. Drew Edelman and Courtney Jaco comprise the Trojan freshman class, with Edelman standing tall as a 6-foot-4 powerhouse under the basket. Fellow newcomer Jaco is fitting in nicely at the point guard position has shown her knack for knocking down 3-pointers. Jaco had a big weekend in Arizona, scoring her first double-digit game at ASU (14 pts) and then adding nine points with a 6-for-6 effort from the free-throw line at Arizona. The Trojans have also brought in transfers Kaneisha Horn and Alexis Lloyd to add to the already impressive roster. Horn, a junior transfer from Alabama, adds a new dynamic to the team and the program as a versatile forward that fits well all over the court. Eligible to compete this season after having finished her undergraduate degree in three years at Alabama, Horn has played in all but one game this season. She has two seasons to play with the Trojans as she pursues a masters in social work. Lloyd will sit out the 2013-14 season after transferring from Virginia Tech. Maria Kemiji-McDonald has walked on to the team after a year at Michigan.
USC finished the 2012-13 season with an 11-20 overall record -- the program's first losing season since 2002-03 and matching the most overall losses in program history (USC also had 20 losses in 1998-99). Last year's Trojans finished seventh in the Pac-12 at 11-7, and was ousted in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals by No. 2 seed California. Cassie Harberts, who scored her 1,000th career point on Jan. 13, 2013, would be selected to the All-Pac-12 Team while also setting USC program records for free throws made (207) and attempted (298) in a single season. Also scoring conference accolades last season were Brianna Barrett (Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention & Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention) and Ariya Crook (All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention).
TUNE IN TO THE TROJANS
The 2013-14 Women of Troy will get plenty of face-time this season with 18 USC women's basketball games scheduled to be televised this season. The Trojans have one matchup with Stanford set for a national audience on ESPN2, along with 17 games on the Pac-12 Networks. All but one conference game is due to be televised. All told, USC face eight teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last year, and play a total of 12 regular-season contests against teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in the final national polls last season.
125 YEARS OF GREATNESS
Since fielding a football team in 1888, USC has had an unparalleled athletic tradition, including 120 national team championships, an unprecedented 419 Olympians and 52 NCAA Postgraduate Scholars as the Trojan family celebrates its 125th anniversary this 2013-14 academic year. Including the USC women's soccer team's historic 2007 NCAA Championship victory, USC boasts a grand total of 120 national team championships, including a national-best 82 men's NCAA crowns. Trojan men have won more individual NCAA titles (309) than those from any other school, while the Women of Troy have added another 69 individual NCAA titles. Four Trojans have won the prestigious Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete. Two Women of Troy athletes have won the Honda Cup as the top collegiate female athlete of the year and there have been 15 Honda Award winners as the top female athlete in their sport. USC not only has more Olympians than any school, but more Olympic medalists (287) and gold medalists (135). USC water polo is a big part of that Olympic tradition, having sent 10 Trojans to the 2012 Olympics in Beijing, with four Trojans winning medals. Thanks in part to USC's water polo participants, a Trojan has won a gold medal in every summer Olympics since 1912. Go to usctrojans.com/125 to revisit the athletic highlights for Trojans the past 125 years.